Oxidation states of uranium in depleted uranium particles from Kuwait
Faculty of Sciences. Chemistry
Journal of environmental radioactivity. - London
, p. 125-135
University of Antwerp
The oxidation states of uranium in depleted uranium (DU) particles were determined by synchrotron radiation based mu-XANES, applied to individual particles isolated from selected samples collected at different sites in Kuwait. Based on scanning electron microscopy with X-ray microanalysis prior to mu-XANES, DU particles ranging from sub-microns to several hundred micrometers were observed. The.median particle size depended on sources and sampling sites; small-sized particles (median 13 mum) were identified in swipes taken from the inside of DU penetrators holes in tanks and in sandy soil collected below DU penetrators, while larger particles (median 44 mum) were associated with fire in a DU ammunition storage facility. Furthermore, the U-236/U-235 ratios obtained from accelerator mass spectrometry demonstrated that uranium in the DU particles originated from reprocessed fuel (about 10(-2) in DU from the ammunition facility, about 10(-3) for DU in swipes). Compared to well-defined standards, all investigated DU particles were oxidized. Uranium particles collected from swipes were characterized as UO2, U3O8 or a mixture of these oxidized forms, similar to that observed in DU affected areas in Kosovo. Uranium particles formed during fire in the DU ammunition facility were, however, present as oxidation state +5 and +6, with XANES spectra similar to solid uranyl standards. Environmental or health impact assessments for areas affected by DU munitions should therefore take into account the presence of respiratory UO2, U3O8 and even UO3 particles, their corresponding weathering rates and the subsequent mobilisation of U from oxidized DU particles. (C) 2004 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.